Simonne Mathieu

The women’s doubles trophy at the French Open is named for Mathieu, Coupe Simonne-Mathieu and the new 5,000 seat Roland Garros court will be named after her.
But who was Simonne Mathieu? Alongside Suzanne Lenglen and Henri Cochet she is one of France’s greatest tennis champions. But she was much more than that.

Simonne Mathieu and Suzanne Lenglen

Married at 17, her baby laid in his pram courtside when she became French junior champion in 1926. At 20, she was a mother of two kids whom she rarely saw as she travelled the world, collecting titles in Egypt, the Netherlands, Greece, Switzerland or Belgium.

She bounced back from losing six French Open singles finals (including three consecutive against the same opponent, Hilde Sperling) to finally win her home Grand Slam event at the seventh attempt, in 1938. She defeated fellow countrywoman Nelly Landry 6-0 6-3.
She even completed a rare triple that year, sweeping Roland Garros singles, women’s doubles and mixed doubles titles. Only Suzanne Lenglen (1925 and 1926), Maureen Connolly (1954) and Margaret Court (1964) have achieved that distinction.

Simonne Mathieu, Nelly Landry, Marlene Dietrich - Roland Garros 1938

Simonne defended her title in 1939, with a straight sets victory over Jadwiga Jedrzejowska 6-3 8-6. France would have to wait until 1967 to see another French-born winner, Françoise Dürr, win the home title. [1]

She never played in Australia and only twice at the US Championships where she reached the quarterfinals in 1938. And even though she never captured the title in London, she had tremendous success at Wimbledon, with six semifinals (1930, 1931, 1932, 1934, 1936, 1937) and four quarterfinals (1933, 1935, 1938, 1939).

Mathieu was ranked in the world top 10 eleven times and reached rank number 3 in 1932 behind the two Helens: Wills Moody and Hull Jacobs. She was French number one from 1928 until 1940.

A resolute baseliner, she played with great steadiness and determination, quite often in long drawn-out matches. She had an outstanding forehand drive.

“There was one great drawback to Simone’s game to which she was never able to overcome – or perhaps she did not think it necessary – the absence of any sort of effective volley or smash. This shortcoming did not prevent her from winning innumerable doubles championships, but it was a tremendous handicap in singles competition against players who had the tactical sense to draw her up to the net with short, low shots and then lob deeply. To win, she relied almost entirely on baseline duels, or upon drawing the opponent up, then making the passing shot or the lob, herself” – Helen Jacobs

Despite her weakness at the net, she was a fantastic doubles player: she won 11 Grand Slam doubles titles: three women’s doubles titles at Wimbledon (1933, 1934, 1937), six women’s doubles titles (1933, 1934, 1936, 1937, 1938, 1939) and two mixed doubles titles (1937, 1938) at Roland Garros.

Simonne Mathieu and Toto Brugnon

A fighter on the court, Mathieu has also gone down in history as a fighter off the court.
She was playing a tournament in the United States when World War II broke out in 1939 and then decided to return immediately to France. Following France’s surrender in June 1940, she joined General de Gaulle in London, and offered him her services. She set up the Corps Féminin Français, a group of women volunteers serving in the Free French Forces.

She ended the war with a grade of Captain and marched down the Champs Elysées alongside de Gaulle when Paris was liberated in August 1944. She was finally reunited with her family, and with tennis.
She served as umpire for the “liberation match” between Henri Cochet and Yvon Petra at Roland Garros on September 17 1944 wearing her uniform as an officer in the French forces.

From 1949 to 1960 she was captain of the French womens team. She died in 1980, aged 72.
She was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2006… the year Amélie Mauresmo won two Grand Slams.

Notes:
[1]: Nelly Landry won the title in 1948, but she was Belgian-born and became a French citizen after marriage
[2]: Read more info on The War Illustrated

Pictures:
1: Simonne Mathieu, 1926
2: Simonne Mathieu and Suzanne Lenglen, 1926
3: Picture taken before the Roland Garros 1938 singles final. From left to right: Simonne Mathieu, Nelly Landry and Marlene Dietrich.
4: Mathieu playing with Mousquetaire Toto Brugnon
5: Henri Cochet, Simonne Mathieu, Yvon Pétra

Sources:
Wikipedia, International Tennis Hall of Fame, The golden days of tennis on the French Riviera by Alan Little, Roland Garros website

2016 US Open coverage

Arthur Ashe Stadium, 2016 US Open

Relive some of the best moments in the US Open history and follow our coverage on Tennis Buzz:

If you attend the Open and wish to share your stories or pictures, please leave us a comment below.

Fashion and gear:

A trip down memory lane:

Top 5 strange events at the US Open
US Open biggest upsets
1970 US Open: Margaret Court completes the Grand Slam
1971 US Open: Chris Evert becomes the “It Girl”
1972 US Open: Ilie Nastase defeats Arthur Ashe
1973 US Open: Margaret Court defeats Evonne Goolagong
1976 US Open: Connors defeats Borg
1978: the US Open moves to Flushing Meadows
1978 US Open: 4th consecutive US Open title for Chris Evert
1978 US Open: Jimmy Connors defeats Bjorn Borg
79 US Open 2nd round: McEnroe vs Nastase, chaos on court
1979 US Open: John McEnroe defeats Vitas Gerulaitis
1980 US Open: John McEnroe defeats Bjorn Borg
1981 US Open: Tracy Austin defeats Martina Navratilova
1981 US Open: John McEnroe defeats Bjorn Borg: Borg’s last Grand Slam match
1983 US Open: Career Grand Slam for Martina Navratilova
1984 US Open: John McEnroe last Grand Slam title
1990 US Open: Linda Ferrando upsets Monica Seles
1990 US Open: Alexander Volkov upsets Stefan Edberg
1990 US Open, the spitting incident
1991 US Open: Connors, 39 qualifies for the semifinals
1991 US Open: Seles and Capriati introduce power in womens tennis
1991: Monica Seles first US Open title
1991 US Open: playing to perfection, Edberg grabs first Open
1991 US Open: Edberg’s final dominance doesn’t diminish Courier
1992: Stefan Edberg defeats Pete Sampras
1992 US Open: Edberg takes Sampras, US Open, No.1 ranking
1993 US Open: Pete Sampras defeats Cédric Pioline
1994 US Open 4th round: Jaime Yzaga defeats Pete Sampras
1994: first US Open title for Andre Agassi
1995: Pete Sampras defeats Andre Agassi
1996 US Open: Class act Edberg making one last run at US Open
1996 US Open: Pete Sampras’ warrior moment
2001 US Open: Venus defeats sister Serena
2001 US Open QF: Andre Agassi – Pete Sampras
2001 US Open: Lleyton Hewitt defeats Pete Sampras
2002 US Open: last Grand Slam title for Pete Sampras
2004 US Open: First time to NYC for a French fan of Agassi
2005 US Open: Roger Federer defeats Andre Agassi
Andre Agassi gives the Open crowd one more thrill ride, August 31st, 2006
September 3rd 2006: Andre Agassi’s last match
Andy Murray’s road to the 2012 US Open final
2012 US Open: first Grand Slam title for Andy Murray

Reports:

Polls:

Who will win the 2016 US Open?

  • Novak Djokovic (45%, 62 Votes)
  • Andy Murray (27%, 38 Votes)
  • Rafael Nadal (17%, 24 Votes)
  • Stan Wawrinka (4%, 5 Votes)
  • Someone else (3%, 4 Votes)
  • Gael Monfils (1%, 2 Votes)
  • Kei Nishikori (1%, 2 Votes)
  • Milos Raonic (1%, 1 Votes)
  • Marin Cilic (1%, 1 Votes)
  • Dominic Thiem (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 139

Loading ... Loading ...

Who will win the 2016 US Open?

  • Serena Williams (62%, 64 Votes)
  • Angelique Kerber (22%, 23 Votes)
  • Garbine Muguruza (6%, 6 Votes)
  • Simona Halep (5%, 5 Votes)
  • Someone else (2%, 2 Votes)
  • Agnieszka Radwanska (1%, 1 Votes)
  • Madison Keys (1%, 1 Votes)
  • Dominika Cibulkova (1%, 1 Votes)
  • Venus Williams (1%, 1 Votes)
  • Roberta Vinci (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Svetlana Kuznetsova (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 104

Loading ... Loading ...

View more

Photo credit: Michael C Dunne

Billie Jean King

From Love Thirty: Three Decades of Champions, by Rex Bellamy (published in 1990)

Like Ashe, Billie Jean King had a pioneering zeal that made her an inspiring leader of many causes. If there was no crusade available, she invented one. They included her campaign for parity of prize money and draw numbers between men and women; the introduction of professional ‘team tennis’ and the concept’s expansion to other levels of the game; her famous ‘Battle of the Sexes‘ with Bobby Riggs, an occasion that had implications and effects outweighing the showbiz razzmatazz; her role in forming the Women’s Sports Foundation and re-enforcing the women’s liberation movement; and a maze of associated business ventures. For all that, King will most obviously be remembered for her supreme tally of Wimbledon titles during a span of 23 years. She began that Wimbledon saga as ‘Little Miss Moffitt’ and ended it as a self-styled ‘Old Lady’ who seemed to be part of the furniture. By that time she had graduated to the same class of all-time Grand Slam champions as Helen Wills and Margaret Court. But neither of these (nor any other woman, for that matter) matched King’s revolutionary status. consequently, because of her combined achievements on and off court, she became the most important figure in the history of women’s tennis.

King’s father, an engineer in the Long Beach fire department was an all-around athlete but had no interest in tennis. Her mother was a good swimmer and her brother Randy became a major-league baseball pitcher. When she first played tennis, at the age of 11, King used a racket borrowed from a friend. Then she popped spare nickels and dimes into a jar until she had $8, which was all she needed to buy a racket from the local sports shop. She made the most of the free lessons available in pubic parks at Long Beach and seized the chance to study celebrities in action at Los Angeles. King particularly liked the serve-and-volley style of Louise Brough and at 15 she spent three months receiving weekend tuition from another one-time US and Wimbledon champion, Alice Marble, who had a similarly aggressive game. Aspiring climbers are taught not to reduce the leverage of fingers and toes by getting too close to the rock. For different reasons, Marble warned King not to get too close to the ball.

Moffitt spent three years at Los Angeles State College, where she met a law student called Larry King. They were to marry in 1965. Meantime she was developing a liking for Wimbledon. In 1961, aged 17, the tomboyish Moffitt won the Wimbledon doubles with Karen Hantze, 18. King built rapidly on that early success and in 1963 she reached the Wimbledon singles final. But the road to full-time tennis was rather bump in those days and King as 21 before she could press the accelerator hard down and keep it there. Late in 1964 Bob Mitchell, the Melbourne businessman who had previously helped Margaret Court, offered to pay King’s way to Australia, where Mervyn Rose improved her groundstrokes and service and put her through a sharpening programme of training and practice drills. With a remodeled game and a total commitment to the circuit, King brought increasing confidence and intensity to her 1965 campaign. Court stopped her in an Australian semi-final and US final. Bueno stopped her in a Wimbledon semi-final. But King had beaten both in previous years, before Rose brought a bloom to her tennis, and thee could no longer be any doubt that the Court-Bueno duopoly of grass was not going to last much longer.
Read More

Margaret Court

45 years ago, Margaret Court completed the fifth calendar Grand Slam in history, after Donald Budge (1938), Maureen Connolly (1953) and Rod Laver (1962 and 1969). Twice previously (in 1962 and 1969), Court had failed to win the coveted Grand Slam, falling both times at Wimbledon.

The powerful Australian was the most dominating player in the 60s, winning 13 Grand Slam tournaments.
Then she decided to retire after Wimbledon in 1966. But after getting married in 1967, she changed her mind and returned to tennis in 1968. Her goal: to complete the calendar-year Grand Slam. In 1969, she captured 3 majors, but lost to Ann Jones in Wimbledon semifinals.

In 1970, she had already won the Australian and French Championships when she met Billie Jean King in the Wimbledon final. This match is still considered as one of the greatest played on Center Court.
Court prevailed 14-12 11-9. 46 games, a record for the final, the tie-breaker not yet in use. But the result might have totally different: King broke Court’s serve 4 times in the first set, she served for the second set at 5-4, 7-6, and 8-7, and saved four match points. It would be the third and last title for Margaret Court at Wimbledon.

She met doubles specialist Rosie Casals in the US Open final, cruising through the first set 6-2. Casals bounced back to take the second set 6-2, but Court overcame her nerves in the third and captured her fourth US Open title 6-2 2-6 6-1. She also won the women’s doubles and mixed doubles.

Rosie Casals:

We called Margaret ‘The Arm’. It was like her right arm was a mile long when you tried to pass her.

Court regards her U.S. Open win against Casals in 1970 as the best moment of her career.

I had won three of the four Grand Slam tournaments twice before but completing the full set in one year was very special. Maureen Connolly was the only player who had previously achieved the Slam in the women’s game. In those days the US Open was played at Forest Hills, an old-fashioned club that was very different to the massive Flushing Meadows. Winning that final against Rosie Casals was special.

Court retired again to have children but came back in 1972, and won 3 of 4 Slams in 1973.
She retired permanently in 1977 when she learned she was expecting the last of her four children.

Margaret Court won 62 Grand Slam championships, more than any other woman, and in 1970 became the second woman (after Maureen Connolly in 1953) to win the grand slam of tennis singles: Wimbledon, the U.S. Open, the Australian Open, and the French Open titles in the same year. She is the only player to achieve the Grand Slam in mixed doubles as well as singles, winning the four events with fellow Australian Kenneth Fletcher in 1963.
She’s also the only person to have won all 12 Grand Slam events (singles, doubles and mixed doubles) at least twice.

Margaret Court 24 Singles titles:
– Australian Open: 11 (1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1973)
– French Open: 5 (1962, 1964, 1969, 1970, 1973)
-Wimbledon: 3 (1963, 1965, 1970)
– US Open: 5 (1962, 1965, 1969, 1970, 1973)

In January 2003, Tennis Australia renamed Melbourne Park’s Show Court One to the Margaret Court Arena. She was the recipient of the 2003 Australia Post Australian Legends Award, and featured on a special 50c stamp. In 2006 she was awarded the International Tennis Federation’s (ITF) highest accolade, the Philippe Chatrier Award.

Apart from her wonderful on-court achievements, Court who found a ministry (the Margaret Court Ministries), is also known for her homophobia. She said in particular that Martina Navratilova and other lesbian and bisexual players were ruining the sport of tennis and setting a bad example for younger players.

More on this controversial champion.

2015 US Open coverage

2015 US Open

Relive some of the best moments in the US Open history and follow our coverage on Tennis Buzz:

If you attend the Open and wish to share your stories or pictures, please leave us a comment below.

Fashion and gear:

A trip down memory lane:

Top 5 strange events at the US Open
US Open biggest upsets
1970 US Open: Margaret Court completes the Grand Slam
1971 US Open: Chris Evert becomes the “It Girl”
1972 US Open: Ilie Nastase defeats Arthur Ashe
1973 US Open: Margaret Court defeats Evonne Goolagong
1978: the US Open moves to Flushing Meadows
1978 US Open: 4th consecutive US Open title for Chris Evert
1978 US Open: Jimmy Connors defeats Bjorn Borg
79 US Open 2nd round: McEnroe vs Nastase, chaos on court
1979 US Open: John McEnroe defeats Vitas Gerulaitis
1980 US Open: John McEnroe defeats Bjorn Borg
1981 US Open: Tracy Austin defeats Martina Navratilova
1981 US Open: John McEnroe defeats Bjorn Borg: Borg’s last Grand Slam match
1983 US Open: Career Grand Slam for Martina Navratilova
1984 US Open: John McEnroe last Grand Slam title
1990 US Open: Linda Ferrando upsets Monica Seles
1990 US Open: Alexander Volkov upsets Stefan Edberg
1990 US Open, the spitting incident
1991 US Open: Connors, 39 qualifies for the semifinals
1991 US Open: Seles and Capriati introduce power in womens tennis
1991: Monica Seles first US Open title
1991 US Open: playing to perfection, Edberg grabs first Open
1991 US Open: Edberg’s final dominance doesn’t diminish Courier
1992: Stefan Edberg defeats Pete Sampras
1992 US Open: Edberg takes Sampras, US Open, No.1 ranking
1993 US Open: Pete Sampras defeats Cédric Pioline
1994 US Open 4th round: Jaime Yzaga defeats Pete Sampras
1994: first US Open title for Andre Agassi
1995: Pete Sampras defeats Andre Agassi
1996 US Open: Class act Edberg making one last run at US Open
2001 US Open: Venus defeats sister Serena
2001 US Open QF: Andre Agassi – Pete Sampras
2001 US Open: Lleyton Hewitt defeats Pete Sampras
2002 US Open: last Grand Slam title for Pete Sampras
2004 US Open: First time to NYC for a French fan of Agassi
2005 US Open: Roger Federer defeats Andre Agassi
Andre Agassi gives the Open crowd one more thrill ride, August 31st, 2006

Reports:

Polls:

Who will win the 2015 US Open?

  • Roger Federer (47%, 74 Votes)
  • Novak Djokovic (28%, 44 Votes)
  • Rafael Nadal (10%, 15 Votes)
  • Andy Murray (8%, 12 Votes)
  • Stan Wawrinka (3%, 4 Votes)
  • Other (2%, 3 Votes)
  • Kei Nishikori (1%, 2 Votes)
  • Tomas Berdych (1%, 2 Votes)
  • David Ferrer (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Marin Cilic (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Milos Raonic (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 156

Loading ... Loading ...

Will Roger Federer win another Grand Slam title before the end of his career?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

Who will win the 2015 US Open?

  • Serena Williams (70%, 63 Votes)
  • Maria Sharapova (9%, 8 Votes)
  • Other (8%, 7 Votes)
  • Simona Halep (7%, 6 Votes)
  • Ana Ivanovic (2%, 2 Votes)
  • Lucie Safarova (2%, 2 Votes)
  • Caroline Wozniacki (1%, 1 Votes)
  • Garbine Muguruza (1%, 1 Votes)
  • Petra Kvitova (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Karolina Pliskova (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Carla Suarez Navarro (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 90

Loading ... Loading ...

View more